For your consideration...

While reading The Chronicle of Higher Education over lunch today, I came across an article discussing how to increase undergraduate students' contributions to the research being conducted by professors on college campuses. It was actually a pretty interesting article by professor and author Marc Zimmer, but what really fascinated me was the opening paragraph:

"Our family has two special pets, Shine and Shimmer.
Place them under black light, and they will glow green.
They are transgenic nude mice, which means that they have no fur
but possess genetic material from another species:
in this case, green fluorescent protein from jellyfish."

My first reaction came from the wacky scientist inside - how cool was this, and wouldn't it be neat to see what they looked like. My second reaction came from the non-scientist who is still awe-stricken by all that science encompasses - how amazing that scientists have the ability to replace and insert genetic material to do things like that, and who knows what discoveries like this could mean for the medical field. But my third reaction came from the animals rights activist that rarely surfaces, but causes dilemmas when she does - what right does this man (or any man or woman) have to play with a mouse's genetic material and then be amused by it?

I don't claim to know where to draw the line between worthwhile scientific research and unnecessary animal cruelty. And it's even harder to draw the line when the author goes on to describe how he brings the mice with him to school presentations, because maybe the children who see these mice will be so intrigued that they'll go on to become brilliant scientific minds. You would think that, as we get older and wiser, life would become less confusing; but it's situations like this that make me realize just how grey all of life really is, that there really is no such thing as black and white in deciding right and wrong.

But I do know this - I would really like to see those mice glow! =)


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